1. Is your title engaging? Does it suggest the approach you are taking in your paper?
2. Does your first paragraph introduce the main issue, name the writer and the work you are responding to, and end with your thesis statement? Will it get the reader interested in your topic?
3. Does the thesis state the topic and central idea of your paper? Does it give a concession to the other side of the debate, using contrast words like “although,” “however,” “nevertheless,” “but,” and so on, yet take a definite stand on the issue? Does it give specific advice for a specific group and include a word like “should,” “need” or “must”? Is it debatable?
4. Is your paper organized in a way that your reader will be able to follow? Are your developmental paragraphs unified (everything in the paragraph relates to the topic of the paragraph) and coherent (everything in the paper is arranged in logical order)?
5. Have you used connecting words and transitional words when necessary? Have you punctuated them correctly? Are there transitions linking all the paragraphs of your essay?
6. Does your concluding paragraph provide a sense of closure?
7. Have you included brief summaries, paraphrases, and direct quotations from your source material? Have you introduced the quotes so that readers will know the context? Have you explained why you are using them and how they support your central idea?
8. Have you documented this information properly with in-text citations and a works cited page in MLA format?
9. Have you used specific wording, replacing vague words like “you,” “we,” “thing,” “stuff,” “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those,” “it.” (except when these last five pronouns clearly refer to a nearby noun)?
10. Have you chosen specific, concrete subjects for your sentences, especially people (sentence focus)?
11. Have you selected active verbs? Have you checked to make sure that subjects and verbs match? (Remember subjects can’t appear in prepositional phrases: “The group of vampires is having a tupperware party.”)
12. Have you proofread for sentence boundaries to make sure you do not have any fragments, run on sentences, or comma splices?
13. Have you checked to make sure words and phrases in lists or compared to each other are grammatically parallel?
(Several questions adapted from Bucks County Community College website.)